How to Become a Better Weekday Catholic

Ite Missa Est. The recessional hymn sounds and Mass is complete. You’ve fulfilled your Sunday obligation. Sometimes people will rush out of the church building so fast that they don’t realize what just happened or Who they just encountered.

A person may unknowingly “activate” their faith at the beginning of the Mass, but then it deactivates at the end of Mass. It’s a sense of obligation. You “have” to be there, but in reality you’d rather be sleeping in or doing something else, anything else, than to be at Mass.

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” –Matthew 18:20

It is possible for laity such as you and I to get more out of being Catholic, and to get more out of just some Sunday obligation. The answer is to become a weekday Catholic.

There is a very simple approach to becoming a weekday Catholic. Not only that, but a devout weekday Catholic. It’s so simple that anybody can accomplish such even with a demanding, overflowing schedule.

Attending a beautiful and reverent Mass is a first step to applying your faith in a practical sense during the week. The reason for this is you need the beautiful experience to plant the seed to become a weekday Catholic. That seed of desire will be planted at a reverent Mass. We desire to be satisfied at Mass yet hungry for more. It’s a hunger for more Catholicity that you can continue to enjoy during the week. Not only that, but prayerful practices during the week can make you hungry for the Eucharist on Sunday. It’s cyclical.

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” –Acts 2:42

Christ wants to be part of your life every day, not just for one hour a week at Sunday Mass. Being a weekday Catholic is not difficult. Some speculate that it’s overbearing and time consuming, but being a weekday Catholic is simple with the right approach. Satan wants you to think that being a weekday Catholic will take too much time out of your day from work or obligations. Satan wants you to think Jesus is an afterthought, that prayer is dull, that the sacraments are rigid. If the devil can get you to think that being a Catholic is low on the priority scale, then he has won.

People make time to eat. Eating is important, especially eating healthy. If you stopped eating and drinking that would be bad for your health. People make time to do the things they either need to do or want to do. Spending time with Christ, such as prayer, each day works along the same line.

Prayer is essential to your spiritual health just as eating is to your physical health. Prayer nurtures and feeds the soul. Poor eating habits eventually catches up with the person and they become sick. The same with poor prayer habits. Prayer is easy to do every day. One of the most satisfying prayers outside of the Mass is the Rosary. I’ve mentioned the importance of praying the Rosary before, because the Rosary really is that powerful of a prayer.

“Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.” –Matthew 6:33

Praying the Rosary takes minutes out of your day. The Rosary can fit into anyone’s schedule. Praying the Rosary together as a family is powerful. The Blessed Mother wants to be part of your prayer life with Christ at the center. It takes no time at all for the Rosary to become habitual. Praying the Rosary around the same time each day helps to create a better habit. No matter how busy I am I will stop what I’m doing to pray the Rosary out of habit as well as a desire to pray. It makes a tremendous difference.

Some parishes offer Eucharistic Adoration and Reconciliation during the week. The Sacrament of Penance is essential for those that have grave matter on their soul, but confession is not only for mortal sins, but also venial sins. Make a habit of weekly sacramental Penance for even the smallest of venial sins. After an examination of conscience there’s at least one venial sin that could stand absolution. Afterwards spend a few moments before the Blessed Sacrament, whether it’s exposed in Adoration or reposed in the tabernacle. Regular visits to the confessional keeps the soul clean. Reconciliation also fortifies the soul when temptation emerges. Make a habit of the Sacrament of Penance.

The daily scripture readings are easily accessible for free on any smart phone or tablet. It takes minutes out of a busy day to read the daily scripture. Allow God to nourish your soul with His Word. Time is precious but so is God’s Word. There is always time to be a weekday Catholic. A few minutes here. A few minutes there.

 “So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.” –Romans 10:17

Over time as your weekday Catholic habits grow, daily Mass is a great option. Why wait for Sunday for the Eucharist when a parish near by may offer daily Mass during the week. If you’re hungry for the Eucharist, go to daily Mass.

Being a weekday Catholic is a great way to prepare you for being a great Sunday Catholic at Mass. Your soul will be prepared for the Liturgy. Rather than run out the door as soon as Mass concludes you may find yourself sitting there in the pew for a moment and reflect on what and Who you just encountered–a beautiful Liturgy and Christ in the Eucharist.

by John Connor

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Patience is a Virtue
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Patience

Patience is a virtue is an old “proverbial” phrase that refers to one of the seven heavenly virtues. This phrase has even been used in popular culture pointing out that patience isn’t always easily to practice, but it can be easily accessible if one so chooses to exercise it. Popular music has also allocated the need for more patience, which comes from a 1980s song that says, “all we need is a little patience.” Even secularism acknowledges the need for more patience.

“Have patience with all things, But, first of all with yourself.” –St. Francis de Sales

The seven heavenly virtues are a response to the opposition of the seven deadly sins. In the case of patience, the deadly sin is wrath.

Forgiveness and mercy stem from patience, but in order to grasp the importance of this virtue, we also have to understand its formidable opposition–wrath. Wrath, or anger, is a powerful emotion. Anger in itself is not a sin, the virtue of patience allows one to reciprocate so that anger does not bloom into mortal sin.

“The term virtue is from the word that signifies man; a man’s chief quality is fortitude. Taken in its widest sense virtue means the excellence of perfection of a thing, just as vice, its contrary, denotes a defect or absence of perfection due to a thing. In its strictest meaning, however, as used by moral philosophers and theologians, it signifies a habit superadded to a faculty of the soul, disposing it to elicit with readiness acts conformable to our rational nature.” –Catholic Encyclopedia

Like any other virtue such as chastity, honesty, and humility, patience has to be put into action with a bit of practice. Habits have to be formed, much like charity. You choose to love God and neighbor. It doesn’t happen on its on accord. No. Virtues have to be learned and practiced. The seven deadly sins points to our own selfish desires. The heavenly virtues takes the focus from the individual and shines its light towards God and others.

The seven deadly sins are engrossed around the sin of sins–pride. Love or charity is the fuel needed to practice the heavenly virtues such as patience. With free will comes choice. We choose to either have patience or wrath. We choose. It is true that temptation plays a role in that choice, heavenly virtues can lead us away from temptation and sin, and help us grow closer to Christ.

“Patience is power. Patience is not an absence of action; rather it is ‘timing’ it waits on the right time to act, for the right principles and in the right way.” –Venerable Fulton J. Sheen

We can look to the Holy Family to inspire us to pray for more patience in our life. In the story of the Finding in the Temple (Luke 2:41-52), the Holy Family along with relatives travelled to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. After they sojourned in Jerusalem for the Passover they returned home. Mary and Joseph noticed Jesus was not in the caravan. They lost Jesus. Contemplate that for a moment. Mary and Joseph lost God. For three days they went looking for Him and finally found Jesus in the temple. Jesus said, “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Imagine the anxiety Mary and Joseph faced those three days looking for the boy Christ. How it took a great deal of patience, to battle the great level of anxiety, looking for Him.

All of the heavenly virtues work together. Patience being one of them. Without the grace of charity in the soul, patience along with the other virtues won’t be strong enough when tested.

In order to exercise the virtue of patience, or any other virtue for that matter, the person must be able to recognize if, when, and how frequent that virtue is being utilized. You have to be able to recognize the moments. Take an inventory how often you show anger, or any level of impatience. Also look for signs of depression or anxiety. It may be beneficial to ask your spouse, children, relatives, or friends if you’re patient. They’ll be honest I’m sure.

“Patience is the companion of wisdom.” –St. Augustine of Hippo

Virtues like patience can be obtained if you so choose. It’s a choice. Much like charity, you choose to love even when the desire isn’t there. It takes strength and it takes exercising the other virtues to help gain the level of patience needed to grow closer to God. Continue to pray and fast for patience. Patience is a virtue and we could stand just a little more patience.

by John Connor

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Battling Sin
Forgiveness is Divine

Lord, I’m Not Worthy

At the Holy Mass a perpetual, thanksgiving sacrifice is offered to God at the hands of the priest which we assist at in Mass through worship and adoration. During the Liturgy, we encounter Christ in a mystical, realistic sense. The mere thought of the second person of the Trinity, Christ, coming to us in the form of bread and wine is beyond our comprehension. This is a physical occurrence. He becomes physically present to those in attendance.

What is noteworthy about our presence being along side the Real Presence is that in the Old Testament, the people of God could not come face to face with God. Only the high priest could enter the holy of holies once a year, speak the divine name of God in His presence and do so without keeling over. You or I would never have been able to do that. We are not worthy.

If the Hebrew people, God’s first chosen people, were not worthy to be in His presence, then his new covenant family, Catholic Christians, aren’t worthy either. Thankfully now God in His bountiful love can make us worthy, not because of our own merit, but through the sacrament of baptism we enter God’s covenant family. We are allowed present ourselves at Mass in the physical presence of Christ, God, under the veil of the Eucharist.

The state of our soul determines our worthiness, that being whether or not we should approach Jesus in Holy Communion and receive Him.

In the parable of the Wedding Banquet (Matthew 22:2-14), the first group of people invited to the king’s wedding feast would not come, some even killed the king’s servants. Finally the king’s servants searched for those, good and bad, to attend the banquet. One person in particular showed up without a wedding garment and was bound up and cast out. This person was unprepared and unworthy to attend. The wedding garment was essential to obtain admission to a wedding banquet.

The fitting attire for a wedding as well as at Mass is a sign of respect, but in the parable mentioned, it’s not so much what the person was wearing is as important as his preparation.

We must prepare our souls for attending the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

The Mass is a foretaste of the Heavenly Wedding Feast. Christ, the bridegroom, and the Church, His bride. If we show up to Mass unprepared by not being in the state of grace we are henceforth unworthy to obtain the Eucharist at Holy Communion.

If the Eucharist was merely symbolic then yes, anyone can deem themselves worthy on their own account to receive Him. But Jesus made perfectly clear in the bread of life discourse (John 6:51-59) and at the Last Supper (Matthew 26:26-28, Luke 22:19-20, Mark 14:22-24) that the Eucharist is really and truly the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ.

Saint Paul reaffirms this in his first letter to the Corinthians.

“And when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” –1 Corinthians 11:24-26

Paul then explains what happens if one consumes the Eucharist unworthily.

“Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves.” –1 Corinthians 11:27-29

The Catholic Church is not a bully by refusing people to receive Holy Communion with mortal sin on their soul. Rather it safeguards and protects people from falling into further grave sin. It would be sacrilege to receive the Eucharist outside of the state of grace.

Paul emphasizes that before receiving the Eucharist we must first examine ourselves to determine whether or not we are worthy. An examination of conscience may be in order to take inventory of any possible serious stain of sin, especially mortal sin, since mortal sin cuts us off from the covenant family of God. Repenting of serious sins through the sacrament of Penance brings us back into God’s fold, united once again. Discernment in St. Paul’s case refers to whether one is worthy to receive the Eucharist. It is of the utmost importance to repent of grave sins in order to receive Communion. Best safe than sorry.

There are times people may still feel unworthy to receive the Eucharist even in the state of grace. Venial sins can cumulate and the weight can be unbearable causing an unworthy reaction. It is perfectly acceptable to go up for a blessing, or “spiritual Communion.”

The Eucharist is not a Catholic privilege, it is an opportunity to humble ourselves to be in the presence of the Eucharistic sacrifice being offered to God. In lieu of trying to make ourselves worthy to receive the Eucharist, it’s an opportunity to leave the worthiness up to God. It gives God the opportunity to lift us up to Him. We shan’t not simplify Liturgy to a mere human level, rather, yearn for God to guide us to the Eucharist. Humility and grace opens the door for God to allow us to receive Him.

“Domine, non sum dignus, ut intres sub tectum meum: sed tantum dic verbo, et sanabitur anima mea.” (Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof; by only say the word, and my soul shall be healed.)

by John Connor

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A New Year, A New You

New year’s resolutions are gaining a full head of steam. More people are deciding to seek the devout Catholic life. Weight loss may still reign at the top of many lists, but it’s very admirable for someone to add to their list to become a better Catholic. To commit fewer sins, to go to Mass on a regular basis, to frequent the confessional more often, or have a better prayer life.

With change comes discipline and the act of the will. This involves breaking old habits and forming new ones. Habits can be changed in a matter of weeks. The will acts as a beacon. A person that wants change in their life wills it. When a person decides to take their faith more serious and become a more devout Catholic, there are so many avenues one may venture.

While the list may go on within such prayer avenues, it’s the obvious approach people tend to miss. There are prayers and practices that fills the soul and are easily accessible. This simple approach to the devout life doesn’t involve a “feel good” conference for a quick “Jesus jolt.” An effective approach to the devout begins with ancient Liturgy.

The Traditional Latin Mass is the gateway to the devout. A reverent Eucharistic sacrifice is the foundation. People that take the Liturgy seriously are more likely to take their faith seriously.

“When we receive Holy Communion, we experience something extraordinary – a joy, a fragrance, a well being that thrills the whole body and causes it to exalt.” –St. John Vianney

Eating healthy and exercising promotes a healthy side effect–weight loss. The same goes for attending a reverent Liturgy such as the Latin Mass. Mass that is taken seriously and treated reverently could itself net a healthy side effect–the intent to take the faith seriously. A genuine attempt to live the Christian life as God wills.

Lex orandi, lex credendi is a Latin phrase that refers to good Liturgy championing good theology. Not only that, but beautiful, reverent Liturgy can lead to a devoted prayer life. The Latin Mass is an accessible approach to a bona fide spiritual growth.

“The heavens open and multitudes of angels come to assist in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.” –St. Gregory

Soul-satisfying Liturgy from the Latin Mass can be the momentum needed to devote oneself into deeper prayer outside of the Mass. The Rosary is a most powerful prayer. It is a mighty weapon against Satan and his minions. Sinful temptations may also falter. The Rosary is also a chance to spend silent time meditating on the Mysteries of Christ through the Blessed Mother.

“The greatest method of praying is to pray the Rosary.” –Saint Francis de Sales

One may also choose to pray the Rosary in Latin. It is the liturgical tongue of the Church. There are good reasons for praying the Rosary in Latin. There is less distraction while meditating on the mysteries. Moreover, the devil hates Latin; he loathes Latin. The evil one is fully aware how powerful and rich praying (or speaking) in Latin is to Catholics. Latin in the Liturgy dates back over a thousand years, and some believe that the earliest Masses were offered in Latin. The traditional Rosary in Latin is a personal preference. The Most Holy Rosary offers the Rosary in both Latin and English.

“The Rosary is the most excellent form of prayer and the most efficacious means of attaining eternal life. It is the remedy for all our evils, the root of all our blessings. There is no more excellent way of praying.” –Pope Leo XIII

The Divine Office, or in Latin Divinum Officium, is a most important prayer that the Church offers using a liturgical book known as a Breviary. Traditionally these prayers are chanted by monks and nuns, but may also be recited by devout Catholic faithful. The Divine Office is made up the 150 Psalms that are spread throughout the week, and also incorporates readings from Sacred Scripture, commentaries from the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and short accounts of the saints lives. A beautiful aspect of the Divine Office is that it follows the traditional liturgical calendar of the Church. One can easily incorporate the Divine Office morning prayer (Laudes) and evening prayer (Vespers) as part of their daily routine.

The Traditional Latin Mass, Rosary, and Divine Office are three obtainable methods to live a robust, healthy, and devout life with Christ in His Church.

by John Connor

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Why I Love Traditional Catholicism

In the beginning of my Latin Mass experience I would attend the Extraordinary form, as well as the Ordinary form of the Mass, or Novus Ordo, with my family, alternating between the two liturgies. As I grew favorably closer to the Latin Mass, I found my liturgical “palate” began to change, noticing the vast difference how the two liturgies are celebrated.

“Catholic liturgy is no ordinary gathering…God, not man, is at the centre of Catholic liturgy” –Robert Cardinal Sarah

The robust appearances at the Latin Mass such as chant, ad orientem posture, spoken Latin, and Communion on the tongue are vacant at a typical Novus Ordo Mass. A growing number of Catholics are hungry for rich Liturgy rather than something that is mundane. Liturgy that will fill the soul is a Liturgy worth attending.

“Man should tremble, the world should quake, all Heaven should be deeply moved when the Son of God appears on the altar in the hands of the priest.” –St. Francis of Assisi

When one attends Mass, that person should have high expectations in liturgical structure. The Extraordinary form is delivered in such a way that’s beautifully reverent, a Liturgy worthy of God. The priest faces ad orientem, the music is beautiful chant, young men serve the priest as altar boys, the Eucharist is presented reverently. The secular motif that can be found at a Novus Ordo Mass (e.g. praise and worship-style music) is completely absent from the Latin Mass. And there’s no room whatsoever for a priest to interject his personality into the Liturgy–to change what is perfect, respectful, and pleasing to God.

“The liturgy is inherently linked to beauty…The liturgy is a radiant expression of the paschal mystery…Beauty, then, is not mere decoration, but rather an essential element of the liturgical action, since it is an attribute of God himself and his revelation.” Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis no. 35

Pope Francis referred to the Traditional Latin Mass as rigid, asking why are so many young people attracted to the Extraordinary form? The Holy Father is correct. The Latin Mass is rigid. Rigidity is beautiful, and [young] people are attracted to beauty.

Which begs the question, wouldn’t a person rather attend a fun, entertaining, and light-hearted Mass?

People who want to grow in their faith do not want to be entertained at Mass, but to be caught up in the Liturgy and their lives transformed. Mass is not a stage for entertainment. It is an opportunity to encounter God in the flesh, in the Eucharist. A chance to worship Him honorably and reverently.

There is beauty in rigidity. Rigid is good when it comes to Liturgy. The Latin Mass is structured in a way that leaves no room for personal changes or ad lib.

“How happy is that guardian angel who accompanies a soul to Holy Mass!” –St. John Vianney

The Latin Mass is for people of all ages that are hungry for a Liturgy that duly offers the best to God. While the Novus Ordo Mass could be “reformed” to make it more reverent by adding components such as sacred music and ad orientem, a priest could possibly incur his personal taste into the Liturgy. A perfect Liturgy cannot be altered. The Extraordinary form of the Mass preserves the structure intended to offer the most holy Eucharistic sacrifice to God.

I reached the crossroads in my own spirituality. Perhaps you have too. The beauty of the Latin Mass is not only nostalgic, “it is the Mass of the Church of all times, and therefore cannot be overthrown and has equal dignity,” says Cardinal Raymond Burke.

The best decision I’ve made since becoming Catholic is to embrace Traditional Catholicism to the best of my ability. That’s what I’ve done. Does it make it wrong to attend a reverent Novus Ordo Mass? In my opinion no…although I do prefer the Latin Mass. Why? Because when I attend a Latin Mass I embrace true Catholicism with all its splendor. When you reach the point in your spiritual life that you want the most out of Mass, the next logical leap is the Traditional Latin Mass. Becoming more of a Traditional Catholic has been a second conversion for me. In the words of the Blessed Virgin Mary, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” (Luke 1:46) That is what the Traditional Latin Mass has to offer. It magnifies your soul and your spirit will rejoice in Jesus Christ.

“One merits more by devoutly assisting at a Holy Mass than by distributing all of his goods to the poor and traveling all over the world on pilgrimage.” –St. Bernard

by John Connor

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Why Be Catholic?

Christianity has been around for nearly two millennium. It is as diverse as the depths of the oceans. Vast cultural characteristics span around the globe within Christian communities. For those that are Christian, or on the cusp of considering the Christian faith, the next logical question is, why be Catholic?

Catholicism proclaims the fullness of the Christian faith. It has only been in the past 500 years or so that Christianity became diverse through Protestantism and pseudo-Christian sects. In order to live the Christian life to the fullest, we have to ask, why be Catholic? The foundation of Catholicism is that Christ started one Church, not many church communities. It is an unbroken link that leads to the present. As Catholics, we shouldn’t take our faith for granted. We need to be able to answer the question, why Catholicism?

The phrase “Kingdom of God” occurs approximately 122 times in the New Testament, primarily spoken by Jesus Himself. “The Kingdom is not a thing, it is not a geographical dominion like worldly kingdoms. It is a person; it is he. On this interpretation, the term ‘Kingdom of God’ is itself a veiled Christology. By the way in which he speaks of the Kingdom of God, Jesus leads men to realize the overwhelming fact that in him God himself is present among them, that he is God’s presence.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, Part 1)

Christ in essence is the Church, the cornerstone. But not simply a mystical church, where Jesus (i.e. Kingdom of God) is spiritually everywhere or only in our hearts, but it’s a living, breathing Church.

The earthly kingdom (i.e. the Church) and the heavenly kingdom are interrelated. They are in essence one. We see this in the Gospel of Matthew when Jesus founded the Catholic Church.

“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” –Matthew 16:18-19

We can establish two principles here. One, Jesus founded one church, singular tense. Two, that this church, singular tense, would have the power to bind and loose. What ever is bound and loosed on earth will be bound or loosed in heaven. Christ did not merely establish a mystical church, He primarily established a physical church, and He made that Church authoritative in terms of binding and loosing.

Jesus passed on His authority onto His apostles (Matthew 28:18-20). The authority given by God doesn’t end with the death of the last apostle. No. Jesus proclaimed the gates of hell shall not prevail. The apostles were tasked with evangelizing. Sharing the good news (Gospel) to all known nations. In order to do this the apostles had to pass on their authority onto others. This is called apostolic succession. For 2,000 years there has been an unbroken line of bishops from the apostles authority given by Christ, to the current living bishops.

It is impossible for Sacred Scripture to be the sole authority of the Christian life. Scripture is not authoritative unless someone with authority, given by Christ, makes it so. Just like the Constitution of the United States is not authoritative unless the branches of the government, such as the judicial branch, makes it authoritative. Believe it or not, there was a time when there was no Bible. For nearly four centuries, there was no canonized Scripture. No table of contents. It took decades after the Ascension of Christ for the apostles to write the New Testament. Some theologians believe that the last writings were by the apostle John around A.D. 68. That’s over thirty years after the Ascension. Before anything was written the Church had only Sacred Tradition. Not to be confused with “traditions of men” or man-made tradition. Sacred Tradition begat Sacred Scripture, all bound by the Magisterium of the Church–the bishops in union with the Successor of Peter, the Pope.

It would take nearly a thousand years before the Church would see its first split, East and West. Then another 500 years after that before the Church would see a multiple fracture occur in the Protestant Revolt. But the gates of hell shall not prevail. The One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church has stood strong since the time of Christ.

While Holy Mother Church is the pinnacle of holiness, there is still the human element attached to the Church. No Catholic parish is perfect. No priest, bishop, or even the pope is perfect, or impeccable. The Catholic Church itself is perfect. We have a perfect Liturgy in the Traditional Latin Mass, full of beauty and reverence, with all the “smells and bells.” We have a perfect Eucharistic sacrifice given to us by Christ Himself that occurs at every Mass. Catholicism is the fullness of Christianity. Even though modernism and the progressive movement emits itself within the Church today, we can and should embrace our traditional Catholic faith.

“Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.” –St. Ignatius of Antioch, c. A.D 110

by John Connor

Mary, Did You Know?

During Christmastide, you may encounter at least one rendition of the popular song, “Mary, Did You Know?” The song was written by a duo of Protestant Evangelicals. Evangelical Christians generally do not believe in the Marian Catholic doctrines, hence the title of the song. As Catholics, we can provide a one word answer to the question, “Mary, did you know?” The pithy response is, “yes!” A one word answer may not suffice, so let’s dive deeper on what exactly Mary knew about the coming of the Savior into the world.

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” – John 1:14

The Blessed Virgin Mary was chosen from the beginning of time to be the mother of the second person of the Trinity, Our Lord Jesus Christ. She would provide Christ’s humanity, His flesh, that would ultimately untwist the knot of original sin, save us from our personal sins, and redeem all of mankind on Calvary.

The archangel, Gabriel, was sent by God to visit the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was most likely a teenager at the time, approximately 13 to 16 years of age. In Luke’s gospel account of the Annunciation, Gabriel greeted her in an unusual way, “Hail, full of grace.” There’s two very distinct allusions made by Gabriel. One, Gabriel used the salutation “hail.” This is generally reserved for greeting royalty. Jesus is the King of kings, which makes Mary the Queen Mother–royalty. Second, Gabriel does not call her by name, Mary, instead he calls her “full of grace.” If a glass is full to the brim, nothing else that can enter the vessel. The same attests to Mary. If she is full of grace, then there is no room for sin of any kind.

God chose to preserve Mary from sin–the stain of original sin as well as personal sin–at the moment of her conception. Hence she is full of grace. God can save us from sin any way He chooses. Most commonly He saves us after we have committed a person sin, but He can if He chooses to save us before we sin.

To demonstrate this, imagine you came upon a hole in the ground. If you were to fall into the hole (sin) and someone (God) came along and pulled you out, that would be an act of salvation. But, if God prevented you from falling into the hole in the first place, that too is a salvific act. The latter is how Mary was saved from sin. God spared her from the very moment of her conception. God is outside of time. He can save someone any way He chooses. God found it fitting to spare Mary from all sin in order to bring Christ into the world. Jesus who was sinless took on flesh which came from Mary, who was sinless. It’s simply fitting that God chose it that way.

God must have given special graces to Mary in order for her to understand her role in salvation history. It’s not every day that a teenage girl is approached by an angel, asking her to be the Mother of God.

Mary delivers her famous Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) making crystal clear that she knew who Jesus was; what this meant for the children of Israel and to the whole world.

The answer to “Mary, Did You Know?” can be summed up in the first chapter of Luke. Even at such a young age, Mary knew her role. Mary needed a Savior just like you and I. God is outside of time and space. He applied the sacrifice on Calvary to Mary at her conception, similar to how God applies Calvary to us almost 2,000 years later, and to people, such as Abraham and Moses, that came before Christ’s life on earth. God can save anyone at anytime He chooses. We should be ever so thankful for Mary saying yes to be the Mother of God. Thank you Mary for knowing your role and for your fiat.

by John Connor